Road Safety Is A Big Issue
It's such a big issue that the powers that be have dubbed the years 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action For Road Safety. For the next seven years, everybody must be all about road safety, all the time.
Every year, road safety charity Brake instigate a nationwide Road Safety Week. This year it takes place 18-24 November, and if you're even half as excited as I am, then you'll be very excited indeed.
But as if that wasn't enough, today also marks the start of an international Road Safety Week.
UN Global Road Safety Week
That's right. 6-12 May is Global Road Safety Week. Described as “a global event to stop carnage on roads”, it's an initiative set up by the UN themselves to really hammer home the importance of road safety.
Each year, there are about 1.24 million road traffic deaths all over the world. I think you'll agree that that figure's frankly unacceptable. So what can we do?
The focus of this year's event is pedestrian safety. Pedestrians are amongst the most vulnerable of road users, and the goal of the Decade of Action for Road Safety is to save five million lives through training, education and respect.
And it's a two way street, guys.
Motorists & Pedestrians
Obviously all drivers are legally obliged to recognise speed limits. Through ignoring a speed limit, a driver jeopardises the safety of himself, his passengers, his car, other cars and, crucially, pedestrians. So drivers? Don't speed.
Be that as it may, an independent Thames Valley report found that 98.9% of child pedestrian injuries (the most vulnerable of the vulnerable) occurred when the motorists were not speeding.
This may have been an independent survey carried out at a local level, but it raises a very important point. Drivers can do all they can to maintain a sensible speed and to drive with extreme diligence in pedestrian-heavy areas (such as near schools or shopping centres), but pedestrians, too, have a duty to keep their head on at all times.
We all have memories of being taught The Green Cross Code in school. It's drilled into children from a young age that, when approaching a road, they must stop, look, listen and think. Crossing the road is therefore a big deal for children, and you'll likely find many children who won't even consider crossing the road without the presence of a parent, a lollipop man or some traffic lights.
But, when caught up in the excitement of a game, The Green Cross Code can be forgotten. Children will think nothing of running into the road to get a ball. If they do this unexpectedly, whose fault is it should a collision occur? We might automatically blame the driver, but what if they were keeping to the speed limit? What else could they possibly have done to prevent the collision?
Think Of The Children
And that's just the children. Children are told time and again that road safety is a matter of life and death. But before long, this lesson is taken for granted.
How many of the annual road fatalities were caused by absent minded teenagers and adults? It happens to us all from time to time. We've got too much on our minds. We find our attention drifting – and it's all too easy, when you're mind's elsewhere, to casually stroll into oncoming traffic.
And what about those really important people who absolutely have to get somewhere in time to the extent that they'll tell themselves that they can quite safely bolt across the road in time? And what about those people who're under some kind of chemical influence? Perhaps they believe they have a week to cross the road, or perhaps they've just staggered into a bus lane.
I'm not saying that drivers are blameless when it comes to pedestrian carnage. But in terms of preventing accidents, there's only so much drivers can do. Pedestrians too must realise that, when walking near busy roads, their lives are very much in their own hands.
So on this Global Road Safety Week, perhaps everyone – and I do mean everyone – should recognise that road safety is absolutely a two way street.
Drivers must respect pedestrians as the vulnerable soft bags of meat that they are. Similarly, pedestrians must respect cars as the merciless metal machines of death that they are.
Mutual respect. Is that too much to ask?